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20+ Awesome Museums in Charlotte and Nearby!

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 29, 2024.

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Whether you are looking for art, NASCAR history, kid-friendly fun, or anything else, there are some incredible museums in Charlotte, NC, and nearby to check out. This guide focuses on our biggest city and some of our favorite museums in neighboring counties, within an hour’s drive.

Our years of traveling around North Carolina have exposed us to many different ones, especially in the Charlotte area. They include family-friendly museums, tiny exhibits in state parks, and much more.

If you’re new to the area or a seasoned local, we know a Charlotte museum is waiting for you.

Read More: The Best Things to Do in Charlotte (Food, Outdoor Adventures, and More!)

List of Museums in Charlotte NC and Nearby

Use this list to navigate our guide and share with friends so you’ll look like an expert whenever someone asks, “What is your favorite museum in Charlotte?”

  • Art Museums
    • Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
    • Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
    • Levine Museum of the New South
    • The Mint Museums
  • More Charlotte NC Museums
    • Charlotte Museum of History
    • Discovery Place Science
    • Museum of Illusions
    • NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Museums Near Charlotte NC
    • Carolina Raptor Center (Huntersville)
    • Curb Records and Motorsports Museum (Kannapolis)
    • Discovery Place Kids (Huntersville)
    • Fort Dobbs State Historic Site (Statesville)
    • Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store (Concord)
    • Historic Rural Hill (Huntersville)
    • James K. Polk State Historic Site (Pineville)
    • Lake Norman State Park (Troutman)
    • Mustang Owner’s Museum (Concord)
    • North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (Mooresville)
    • The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame (Kannapolis)
    • The NC Transportation Museum (Spencer)
    • Reed Gold Mine (Midland)
    • The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium (Gastonia)
    • SEA Life Charlotte-Concord

Art Museums in Charlotte

Thanks to the Levine Center for the Arts, Charlotte has an incredible art scene. Art museums in Charlotte include the following:

  • The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
  • The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
  • Levine Museum of the New South
  • Mint Museum Uptown

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art 

Address: 420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC

Museums in Charlotte NC

Sitting next to the Mint Museum in Uptown (see below), The Bechlter Museum of Modern Art is probably best recognized by The Firebird, the large mirror sculpture at the entrance of this museum in Charlotte.

Constructed by French-American sculptor, Niki de Saint Phalle, The Firebird is 17 feet tall, weighs 1,433 pounds, and is constructed of 7,500 mirror fragments. 

The Bechtler Art Museum

Inside The Bechtler, you’ll find works by modern art giants like Picasso, Warhol, and Giacometti and incredible fascinating rotating exhibits. Also enjoy events at this Charlotte museum like live music, Family Day, Artist Talks, and film discussions. 

The Bechtler offers free admission on Wednesdays after 5p and a $10 parking validation credit. 

Read More: NC Museum of Art in Raleigh

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Address: 551 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC

Designed by Philip Freelon, the same architect as the Smithsonian’s African American History and Culture, The Gantt Center celebrates African-American art in the heart of Uptown.

Since its opening in 1974, the Gantt has been an anchor in the community for events including dance, theater, yoga, and educational programming. 

Beyond the rotating special exhibits, the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art is a permanent collection that warrants a trip to the Gantt.

It includes works by Charlotte native Romare Bearden, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jonathan Green.

Read More: Important Places to Visit and Learn About Black History in North Carolina

Levine Museum of the New South

Address: 401 S Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

After the Civil War, Charlotte embraced the concept of the “New South.” The Levine Museum of the New South is a history museum in Charlotte that shares the stories of the people of Charlotte post-Civil War. 

Want more after visiting? The Our New South podcast confronts issues including equity in education and immigration, civil rights, and socioeconomic mobility.

Read More: Visiting Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem

The Mint Museums 

Randolph Address: 2730 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC
Uptown Address: 500 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC

The Mint Museum Charlotte

The Mint Museum Uptown and the Mint Museum Randolph are two separate Charlotte museums often referred to as “The Mint Museums.” Here’s a quick breakdown of them both:

  • The Mint Museum Uptown is a contemporary art museum in Charlotte that we highly recommend. Visitors will find an extensive collection of craft art and unique special exhibitions inside the 145,000-square-foot space. The Mint has one of the largest collections in the Southeast! Walking into the foyer take a moment to gaze in awe at the large Chihuly glass sculpture before browsing the large collection of international and contemporary art. 
    • Tips for visiting: The Mint Museum provides $10 parking validation for the Levine Center for the Arts Parking Garage, so make sure to bring your ticket to the front desk for validation. Also, admission to this Charlotte museum is FREE every Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
  • The Mint Museum Randolph features European and African art, works from the Ancient Americas, ceramic work, and more. Surrounded by trees and feeling more like a park, the Mint Museum Randolph is one of our favorite museums in Charlotte when we need a break from the city.

Read More: The Asheville Art Museum (How to Visit Things to Do)

More Charlotte NC Museums 

There are even more incredible museums in Charlotte to check out! From family-friendly to NASCAR, there is so much to see in the Queen City.

Charlotte Museum of History

Address: 3500 Shamrock Dr, Charlotte, NC

Located in Plaza Midwood, the Charlotte Museum of History is a fascinating place to reconnect with the area’s history. Located on eight acres in the Midwood Plaza area, there are six galleries and a 1774 Homesite.

The Alexander Rock House is the last remaining structure from Charlotte’s Revolutionary Era and was home to a framer of North Carolina’s first Constitution and first Bill of Rights.

Read More: The NC Museum of History in Raleigh (+7 Things We Love About It!)

Discovery Place Science 

Address: 301 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC

Of course, you’ll want to find the indoor rainforest in Uptown Charlotte! Discovery Place is an incredible STEM-based museum in Charlotte for kids of all ages.

There are three floors of interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater, live shows, and special lab programming. 

As mentioned, the indoor rainforest is a huge highlight of Discovery Place. Two levels include a large waterfall, tropical birds, and unique plants.

Tip: Save $5 per ticket by buying your tickets online! You can also save $3 on parking if you pre-pay in advance online. 

Also, if you are an EBT or WIC card holder, you can purchase Welcome tickets for only $3 per person, as well as discounted parking for $8 per vehicle. 

Read More: Greensboro Science Center (Museum, Zoo, and Aquarium All in One Wonderful Place!)

Museum of Illusions

Address: 601 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC

Museum of Illusions Charlotte NC 1

Make sure your phone is charged and ready before you walk into the most unique museum in Charlotte! The Museum of Illusions is full of mind-bending exhibits- many of them with fantastic photo ops!

I loved that while you walk around the museum, staff are positioned to help you take photos and explain the illusions. 

Tip: Children 4 and under are FREE! It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go through the museum, and we promise you’ll get lots of great shots!

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Address: 400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC

NASCAR Hall of Fame24

You can’t come to Charlotte without attending the NASCAR Hall of Fame! Vintage race cars, memorabilia, and even a driving simulator—it is one of the highest-recommended museums in Charlotte!

Even if you aren’t a NASCAR fanatic, we promise there is plenty to see and interact with at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Sprawling over 5 acres in Uptown, this Charlotte museum has over 50 interactive experiences and even a Buffalo Wild Wings if you get hungry! 

NASCAR Hall of Fame22

Tip: Adult tickets for general admission are $27, but do not include the simulator. We highly recommend the Starting Grid combo which is priced at $36 and includes general admission, a simulator day pass, and a lanyard.

If you are planning to stay at the museum for most of the day, then take a look at the $49 Victory Lane ticket combo which includes a cafe meal and a $10 gear shop voucher.  

Read More: The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail in Hillsborough (History + How to Visit Today!)

More Unique Museums Near Charlotte

These museums are outside Charlotte and some in neighboring counties, but we think they deserve to be mentioned!

Carolina Raptor Center

Address: 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC
25 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Charlotte NC Things to Do Outside Carolina Raptor Center Image

The Carolina Raptor Center is in Huntersville and offers world-class rehabilitation for raptors and injured birds. More than 30,000 people walk the Raptor Trail annually to see 30+ live birds.

As a medical facility, the Carolina Raptor Center has seen more than 25,000 birds, up to 60 percent being released back into the wild. 

Tip: The Raptor Trail is three-quarters of a mile and not technically ADA accessible, but we found that a jogging stroller can get along the path well! 

Read More: Sylvan Heights Bird Park (How to See 2,000 Exotic Bird Species and More!)

Curb Records and Motorsports Museum

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC
35 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Things to do in Kannapolis Curb Motorsports

The Curb Motorsports Museum for Music and Motorsports exhibits are spread over 20,000 square feet in the same building where you’ll find the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Owned by Mike Curb, a musician, record executive, politician, and motorsports car owner, the museum mixes his love for NASCAR with his record label, Curb. The museum on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard features NASCAR, Indy, modified race cars, and images of famous artists from his record label.

From viewing Dale Earnhardt’s #2 car that won him his first Winston Cup Championship to gold record awards and autographed posters, there are many things to explore here.

Discovery Place Kids

Address: 105 Gilead Rd, Huntersville, NC
25 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Discovery Place Kids Lake Norman

Trust us when we say that we’ve been to a lot of Children’s Museums across North Carolina and Discovery Place Kids is a unique experience!

The museum focuses on learning through hands-on interactive exhibits, including one on local crops, milking a “cow,” and being in the pit crew on a race car! 

We recommend checking out Discovery Place Kids and burning some energy while learning in Lake Norman!

Read More: The Museum of Life and Science in Durham and Things We Love About It!

Fort Dobbs State Historic Site

Address: 438 Fort Dobbs Rd, Statesville, NC
55 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Fort Dobbs near Statesville

Travel back to what was an essential outpost for British settlers during the French and Indian War. As the site of the only battle fought in North Carolina during the French and Indian War, the Fort Dobbs Historic Site is a unique museum near Charlotte.

You can walk inside the fort, around the site, and follow a mile-long outdoor trail.

Events are often held here with live reenactments.

Read more: Amazing Things to Do in Statesville (and Iredell County)

Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store

Address: 4411 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd, Concord, NC
25 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Things to Do in Concord NC Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store Image

Visit the Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store for one of the coolest (and free) museums near Charlotte. It’s perfect for fans of the history behind Hendrick and the team’s best-known drivers. 

You can see cars from the 1980s, when Rick Hendrick created the team, through today. I don’t want to spoil your visit, but big names’ cars on display include Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jimmie Johnson. 

Read More: 25+ Fun Things to Do in Wilkesboro (+ North Wilkesboro and Nearby!)

Historic Rural Hill 

Address: 4431 Neck Rd, Huntersville, NC
25 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Rural Hill Huntersville 1

Located on 265 acres, this historic farm has been in the Davidson family for six generations. Eight Colonial-era buildings depict more than 250 years of history! Make sure to stop by Rural Hill in the fall for their giant corn maze. 

Read More: The Best Pumpkin Patches in North Carolina (Eastern, Central, and Western NC)

James K. Polk State Historic Site

Address: 12031 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville, NC
30 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

The James K. Polk State Historic Site honors the 11th President of the United State, born in Pineville about 30 minutes outside Charlotte. Polk has been described as one of our most effective presidents, and one thing I admire is that he was a voluntary one-term president.

Sign up for a tour of the site’s cabins, which are a recreation of what the Polk family is believed to have inhabited. Tours are $2 for adults and $1 for children, payable when you arrive for the tour.

The site’s Historic Kitchen Garden accurately represents a farm that families like the Polks would have had on their property.

The history nerd in me is already excited and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve visited this interesting museum near Charlotte.

Read More: Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

Lake Norman State Park

Address: 759 State Park Rd, Troutman, NC
50 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Lake Norman State Park Visitor Center

Lake Norman State Park near Statesville is one of our favorite places to go hiking, but the Visitor Center has some small exhibits that you should check out, too. Informative exhibits provide great background on the park and Lake Norman, one of our favorite lakes in NC.

After learning about the lake, Step outside and spend a sunny afternoon relaxing on the chairs behind the Center. They’ll give you an easy-to-access view of the Park Lake.

Read More: Interesting Lake Norman Facts You Should Know (History and More!)

Mustang Owner’s Museum

Address: 4001 Dearborn Pl NW, Concord, NC
25 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

On the opposite side of the Speedway from Hendrick in Concord, you can also see dozens of pony cars at the Mustang Owner’s Museum. There are a variety of rotating exhibits throughout the year, which keeps the experience fresh for even the most loyal return visitors.

Note: Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military/veterans and seniors aged 62 and over, and FREE to kids ages 12 and under. 

Read More: How to See Speedway Christmas (Sparkling Lights, Movies, and More!)

North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Address: 119 Knob Hill Rd, Mooresville, NC
35 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville is another wonderful museum near Charlotte. It’s a great place to pay your respects to the history and memorabilia of auto racing.

You’ll find a variety of auto racing represented here, ranging from stock cars to drag racing.

We think you’ll love learning about the fascinating stories that have made racing America’s sport. 

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC
35 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Things to Do in Cabarrus County NC Music Hall of Fame Kannapolis

The NC Music Hall of Fame recognizes, promotes, and commemorates the musical heritage of North Carolina. The museum in Kannapolis has been housed by Mike Curb’s Records and Motorsports Museum since 2009.

This museum is accessible and modern-thinking, as they use QR codes to make it easier for visitors to learn more about each Inductee’s history and listen to their music.

Read More: The Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby (Tribute to a Legend)

The NC Transportation Museum

Address: 1 Samuel Spencer Dr, Spencer, NC
1 Hour and 10 Minutes Away from Uptown Charlotte

NC Transportation Museum

Just over an hour from Uptown Charlotte, you’ll find trains, trucks, and tractors galore at the NC Transportation Museum. The kid-friendly museum commemorates the Spencer Shops, which was Southern Railroad’s largest steam locomotive repair facility on the East Coast.

Within this 60-plus acre complex, you can go on a train ride or attend special events like the Fire Truck Festival, Days Out with Thomas, or The Polar Express Train Ride! We love visiting for these special events and whenever the place is open because it’s just that awesome!

Reed Gold Mine 

Address: 9621 Reed Mine Road, Midland, NC
45 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Facts About North Carolina Reed Gold Mine Cabarrus County NC Gold Rush

Did you know that the US gold rush started in North Carolina? In 1799, 12-year-old Conrad Reed was playing in the creek that ran through his family’s land when he saw a sparkly stone in the stream.

He picked it up and took it home where it sat as a doorstop for the next three years. 

Conrad’s father, John Reed, took the rock to a jeweler and discovered it was a 17-pound gold nugget—the first gold discovery in the US. But unfortunately for John, he didn’t realize the value and sold it for $3.50.

Today, you can visit the site where there is a visitors center, hiking trail, underground mine shafts, and gold panning. Admission is free, but there are nominal fees for gold panning. 

Read More: Excellent Day Trips from Greensboro (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Address: 1500 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC
35 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Childrens Museums in North Carolina Schiele Museum Gaston County

Discover the diverse natural wildlife of North America and North Carolina at the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia

This museum near Charlotte has an outdoor wildlife garden, an interactive farm exhibit, and the second-largest collection of Catawba pottery in the nation.

Whether you’re a curious youngster or a seasoned scientist, this extraordinary museum guarantees an enriching experience, ensuring that visitors of all ages will learn something new!

Read More: Christmas Town USA (How to See the Wonderful McAdenville Christmas Lights)

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord

Address: 8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC
20 Minutes From Uptown Charlotte

Things to Do in Concord NC SEA Life Aquarium Photo by NC Tripping

As parents and kids at heart, SEA LIFE is one of our favorite things to do inside Concord Mils in Concord. You have 10 Interactive Zones to explore and 5,000 sea creatures to learn about at this fun-filled aquarium

Sensory-friendly Sundays are another reason to love SEA LIFE. During this time, sensory triggers are reduced throughout the aquarium, and a safe place or comfort room is available. 

Ready to Visit these Museums in Charlotte and Nearby?

After reading through all these options, we’d love to hear from you. What is your favorite museum in Charlotte?

If you haven’t visited any of these places yet, which do you plan on seeing first? Let us know in the comments and remember to share your Charlotte adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

NC Travel Guides Featuring Charlotte Museums and More

We’ve featured these museums in Charlotte NC and nearby in many of our NC Travel Guides. Here are a few of them.

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